“Added value” is a buzzword you hear a lot in the business world, and Bonnie Stone, co-founder of Girlfriend’s Consignment, knows all about adding value for her customers. Her company, based in Southern California, connects fashion aficionados – both buyers and sellers – with a proven, profitable consignment process.
Ms. Stone started Girlfriend’s Consignment with a high school friend at a typical brick and mortar store in San Diego. Success soon followed, thanks to Girlfriend’s Consignment’s simple yet effective formula: offer quality, gently used fashion clothing and accessories at reasonable prices. Soon afterwards, Ms. Stone expanded her profitable store with an online presence, and Girlfriend’s Consignment now offers their same great deals for people all across the country.
Innovative Company recently spoke with Ms. Stone about business success, where she finds inspiration, entrepreneurial advice, marketing techniques and how failure can be used to further industry-specific knowledge.
Innovative Company: What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to become
Bonnie Stone: In a word, research! Find out as much as you can about your industry, whether it’s clothing or computers. In our case, we did tons of research about price points, shipping, which styles have “staying power,” and much more. When we expanded with our internet store, our research really kicked into high gear. Bottom line: you can never know too much about your business; just when you think you have everything mastered, a new challenge appears. Solid research helps stabilize your business; your highs will be a bit higher, and your lows tend to be a little less low.
IC: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
BS: There is really no one person that has inspired by endeavors, but several people — especially the women in my family, including my mother and aunts – have set some high standards and examples of achievements. I guess you would say we have strong women in my lineage. My immediate family inspires me on a daily basis; my husband and daughter have not only helped with ideas and adjustments, but have supported my every effort.
IC: Where do you see your business in 10 years?
BS: At Girlfriend’s Consignment, we tend to take things five years at time. This is the ideal blend of short-term and long-term; five years is long enough to analyze big-picture business trends, yet short enough to make necessary adjustments. This way, we can better analyze budgets and growth as well as plan our vision in today’s
fast moving technology.
IC: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
BS: To date, the most successful marketing has been word of mouth. Of course, our original store’s success helped in this regard, as we built a significant customer base who helped spread the word. This still applies, although now the internet is our vehicle to that end. To help with our online marketing, we’ve found that specialized agencies offer the insider knowledge and marketing techniques that help reach an internet audience.
IC: Let’s talk about failure for a minute. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
BS: Well, they say your failures teach you what not to do in the next venture. This is true for me as well. I have learned that you have to research the business and the need for it. If you go into a business venture without thorough research, it’s hard to succeed. I believe the current business climate is ideal for helping our customers save money and time, while also helping the environment. This philosophy is perfect with our consignment clothing store.